Blog to Book Project — Cover Creator for Print Books

Creating a print book cover is a bit more complicated than an eBook cover. The bar code, spine text, and resolution needs to be just so. Kindle Direct Publishing has a handy little app to help you out here. 

Launch the Cover Creator when prompted after you have uploaded your manuscript on the Content Page. The components are slightly different for print and ebooks, so in this section, I’ll just be talking about the steps for creating a cover for a print book. 

If you have a pdf cover already to upload, you’ll need to make sure you have a space for the bar code. If you want the spine of your book to have the title and author name, your book must be more than 100 pages. 

Next you’ll be prompted to choose an image from the gallery, upload a JPG, PNG or GIF image from your computer, or skip this step if you don’t have an image you want to use.  Make sure the image you choose is public domain or you have permission to use it so as not to violate copyright laws. 

After you’ve uploaded or choosen an image, Cover Creator generates a variety of potential cover designs. Since the program uses the book details including author, title, subtitle and ISBN, the image that you upload should not have any of these items on it. If you don’t have an image you want to use, you can choose from several other options with solid colors or background designs.

If you accidently chose the wrong image or if you get a poor resolution notification, you’ll have a chance to change the image. Your image should be 300 pixels per inch (DPI) at the size you want it to appear on your cover. Sometimes it’s just a matter of resizing the picture until it reaches the acceptable DPI. 

Choose the color scheme you would like to use. You can choose from already paired colors or pick your own. Then, select a layout for the print part of the cover. Finally choose a font and select the orange “Preview” button. 

Make sure to preview your cover to ensure the text is readable and the image looks good. The information on the back cover could be About the Author or a blurb about the content of the book or both. It’s up to you. You can even leave it blank. Just don’t add anyinformation and in final version the prompt section will disappear.

If you like how everything looks, you can hit “Save & Submit.” If you don’t, then you can “Start Over.” If you want to change your image, click on it and you’ll get the option to choose another image or change its size, position or rotation. 

There you have it! Now you’ll see a checkmark with “Cover uploaded successfully” next to the thumbnail of your finished cover. 

Assignment: Use Cover Creator or upload your print book cover. 

Blog to Book Project — Back Cover Bio

Depending on the layout you decide on for the cover for your print book, you may have a place to include a back cover bio. Even if you already have an About the Author section, you might want to include a shorter bio on your cover. 

When someone looks at your book on Amazon, they will see both the front and back cover images. Having a back cover bio is another way to get potential readers interested in what you have to say. 

Example of a back cover bio with picture AND several reviews.

The back cover bio should include why you are an expert on this subject and make you seem approachable, humor works well for that. It really should only a few sentences. The About the Author page will be more in depth. 

Example with review quotes. Notice instead of an author picture, there is an image that lists the author website.

You could include reviews or quotes from recognizable authorities on your back cover instead of an author bio if you like. The effect is the same. Reviews garner interest. Interest increases the likelihood of a purchase. 

Both your About the Author bio and the back cover bio should also be included on your author website. The About the Author bio is your About page on your website. The back cover bio might appear in your sidebar. 

Assignment: Write your back cover bio.

Blog to Book Project — Motif

Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, determining your book’s motif is a step in the right direction in creating your book’s final tapestry. A motif is an element, whether figurative or literal, that recurs in your book that has symbolic significance. 

It might be an image that appears at the beginning of each chapter or a perspective the author tries to convey. A butterfly for example, is a symbol of transformation. Including it in a book entitled Overcoming Common Obstacles to a Successful Life Transition along with an emphasis on transforming oneself makes it a motif. 

Knowing your book’s motif will help you design the best cover for your book, find images that fit the theme, and write your book’s blurb. Therefore, you should take some time to examine the threads of your story. Ask yourself:

Are there any repeating patterns? 

Do these patterns reinforce the central theme?

Is there a symbol that readers would associate with your book’s theme?

If you are still having problems finding your motif, maybe you need to consider again WHY you are writing this book and WHAT it is you want to convey. 

For example, I have a series of books based on my experiences in Mexico. I wrote these books to help other women negotiate a new culture in Mexico. That’s my why. I want to convey that despite the challenges, it is possible to create a fulfilling life. My motif, therefore, is survival as represented by a blooming cactus, a plant that not only is found throughout Mexico but one that can survive even the harshest conditions and bloom.

The titles also reflect this motif: A Woman’s Survival Guide to Holidays in Mexico, A Woman’s Survival Guide to Mexican Healthcare, Surviving Voluntary Exile and so on.  I’ve incorporated that motif into my blog and even my author page on Amazon. It’s an idea that I want my readers to identify me and my books with.

Assignment: Find your book’s motif. 

A to Z Prepare-athon 2020

To celebrate National Prepareathon Day and the final day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I thought I’d offer A to Z Reasons Why La Yacata is the Place to Be in Any Disaster: A Prepper’s Guide to Mexico FREE for the next few days.

prepper-cover

You can read about how our family has prepared for everything from the Apocalypse to Zombies, including pandemics, economic collapse, and kakistocracy while you practice social distancing.

This compilation was a result of my participation in the A to Z Challenge in 2016 and my first blog to book project, so yet another reason why it’s a fitting end for the series of posts on Content Creative this month.

Thank you for joining me this month!

Blog to Book Project — Back Up Your Manuscript

I know this step seems like a no-brainer, but today we are going to spend just a few minutes talking about why you should back up your manuscript, even after you’ve uploaded it to the publishing site. 

Let’s start with the book template Pressbooks which allows you to access your completed manuscript, edit it, and download it to your computer. Pressbooks, as amazing as it is, might run into technical issues or be hacked. All your hard work will be lost, unless you have a backup version. This could happen no matter which online book template you use.

Saving to your computer isn’t enough. Be sure to save your manuscript to an external memory device like a USB stick and to a cloud storage platform. Computer can suddenly die. USB sticks can become corrupted. Cloud storage can disappear. However, if you save to all three, odds are that at least one copy of your manuscript can be salvaged. 

Now, let’s talk about Amazon. Although Amazon insists that you retain all rights to your work, that isn’t completely true. When you use the Kindle Create program, your .kpf file can only be used on Amazon. If you decide to move your book to another publishing site, you’ll need to start from scratch. Incidentally, this is another reason to use a seperate book template site like Pressbooks rather than Kindle Create.

Amazon may also remove your book and close your account if it believes you have violated one of its ever-changing policies. If this happens, you can publish your manuscript to another platform only IF you have a copy of your manuscript someplace on file. 

Inexpensive or remote server backup options include:

Even if you are only planning on getting one copy of your book for personal enjoyment, having a backup copy will also make it easier should you wish to run a second printing to give as gifts. 

Assignment: Back up your manuscript.

Blog to Book Project–Examining the Drawbacks to Self-Publishing on Amazon

There are a number of excellent self-publishing platforms out there, but Amazon is by far the largest. Although no one knows for sure, many experts estimate that there are currently 6 million eBooks and a total of 48.5 million books available for sale on Amazon. Amazon has cornered the market on approximately 40% of the self-published eBook market. This overreading vastness can be both a blessing and a bane.

Amazon has made it easy to self-publish. However, Amazon also sets the price you can sell at. If you notice, most eBooks listed on Amazon that are not written by authors like Toni Morrison or Stephen King are under $5. As an author, you get only pennies for books read through KOLL and Kindle Unlimited.

On the other hand, forcing you to keep your eBook price low can work to your advantage. As an unknown author, readers may be more apt to take a chance on your book at bargain prices than they would if they had to shell out more than $10 to get their hands on it.

Print book prices are also set by Amazon. You can not offer your book for a price lower than what Amazon decrees, which sometimes prices your book far outside of the average person’s book budget. Which in turn, encourages readers to enroll in Kindle Unlimited where they can read an unlimited number of books for a set price while you get shafted on royalties.

With the sheer number of books that are available on Amazon, your contribution to the literary world may get overlooked. Amazon offers to help you out through paid advertisements, but it may not be worth the money you invest in them, especially if you are just starting out. You’d do better to devote more time on marketing strategies outside of Amazon even if you are redirecting potential readers to your book listing on Amazon. We’ll talk about ways you can do that in the course too.

As you can see, publishing on Amazon can be a writer’s dream-come-true or nightmare.

Blog to Book Project — Author Website

Having a website establishes you as a credible author. It’s a great place to showcase your writing. And it provides a way for you to establish a fan base through followers.

Since you are already blogging, you are ahead of the game here. You may want to consider a second blog or website though depending on your audience. 

For instance, my blog Surviving Mexico focuses on ex-pats in Mexico, some of whom may be interested in my books. I have a variety of ways that those readers can find my books including landing pages, featured posts, and sidebar ads.

My blog, Content Creative, is my author website where I give tips, post book reviews and author interviews and feature my books too. My target audience at Content Creative is other authors and book lovers. It’s a newer blog and I don’t have as many followers there yet, but it’s growing.

Here are some important things to consider when designing your author website. 

It should be easy to find your name or brand on every page. Creating the perfect header is the best way to do this.

Notice on my Content Creative header, my author name C.E. Flores is clearly visible. While on my Surviving Mexico blog, the name of the blog and a pithy tagline “Adventures and Disasters” are shown. The emphasis on that blog is on the theme “Surviving Mexico” rather than me as an author. 

People should be able to figure out how to subscribe to your newsletter, follow your blog, or find you on other social media sites.

On my sidebars, I have a way for people to sign up to receive emails when I post and link to Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram. I created Widgets for each of these components. 

Your About or Bio page should be easily found. Some experts suggest having a short bio in the sidebar and then a longer About page.

On Content Creative, the home page is my bio while on Surviving Mexico, the About page is found from a drop-down menu.

Readers should be able to contact you, either through a form on the About page or on a separate Contact me page. You never know when someone will have something awesome to say about your books and you want to make it easy for them to share it with you.

You should also have information about your books.

Make a landing page for each book even if you have one page that lists them all. Include the book blurb, the cover image and links to your book on Amazon and Goodreads. 

Keep readers coming back with engaging posts! Aim for regularity. It doesn’t have to be every day, but once a week or twice a month is good engagement. Remember to share useful information and interesting stories rather than plug your book every post. 

Blogging may have come naturally to you but you may be wondering what should you write about as an author. Here are some suggestions.

Write about topics that are related to your book or other things you can be considered an expert on. Have you become an expert on Japanese teas? Talk about it. Is your book based in Japan? Then use that as an excellent way to segue into your book. 

Keep up with current news events and find things to comment on in your post. Is the local library sponsoring a Read-A-Thon, well then, let the world know you’ll be there!

Interview other authors in your genre. Review other books that you think your readers would enjoy. Talk about the writing process. The point is to provide quality content to followers. 

Offer book giveaways every now and then. Nothing piques a reader’s interest like a FREE BOOK! It’s easy to do using giveaway generators like Rafflecopter. Is your book on sale or free to download on Amazon? Share that information! 

Make sure to share your posts on your social media sites. WordPress has a way you can set up automatic shares but look for opportunities on your own as well. Is today Boot Scootin’ Booty day and your book is about a cowboy finding love? Share it with appropriate hashtags. #bootscootinbootyday #cowboylove #nameofyourbook

Your author website will become your home platform, no matter which social media sites you use. Make it attractive and interesting!

Assignment: Set up your Author Website or adapt your current blog to meet the needs of an up-and-coming author (YOU)!

Blog to Book Project — Kindle Unlimited

Kindle Unlimited (KU) is a subscription service available to some customers in select countries where subscribers can read as many ebooks books as they like and keep them as long as they like as long as they pay the monthly fee. KU can be used in the U.S., U.K., France (Abonnement Kindle), Mexico, Brazil, Spain, Canada, India, Germany, Australia, Italy, and Japan.

When someone signs up for KU and goes to the detail page for your book, the Kindle Unlimited price of $0.00 will appear. 

When you enroll in KDP Select, your book is automatically available to Kindle Unlimited subscribers. It remains enrolled unless you choose not to have your book registered in KDP Select. 

You don’t earn royalties on books read via KU, however you will receive a share of the KDP Select Global Fund based on the number of pages a KU member reads in your book the first time. You can find information on how many pages KU or KOLL members have read each month on your KDP reports page under the subheading Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP).

Assignment: Sign up for KDP Select to take advantage of Kindle Unlimited.

Blog to Book Project — Titles

Coming up with the perfect title isn’t easy. Even the best writers have had some duds before deciding on a winning name.

F. Scott Fitzgerald went through a number of possibilities before deciding on The Great Gatsby. Some rejects included The High-Bouncing Lover, Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires; On the Road to West Egg; Under the Red, White, and Blue; Gold-Hatted Gatsby; and Trimalchio in West Egg.

John Steinbeck considered Something That Happened before settling on Of Mice and Men. The original title of War and Peace was the phrase “All’s Well That Ends Well” from Leo Tolstoy. The author of Lord of the Flies, William Golding, wanted to call his book Strangers from Within

So know you are in good company if the perfect title of your book is being elusive. 

Your title should be short, easy to pronounce, simple to remember, and descriptive. It could be funny or indicative of the book’s genre. Is there any doubt about the theme of these books by Annabel Chase?

Consider these questions when creating a title:

  • What is your book about?
  • What problem does your book solve?
  • Who is your intended audience?
  • Are there lines, themes, or phrases that repeat?
  • Is the story told from a unique perspective?
  • Do you have an epigraph that would work as a title?

Some books reference a well-known title or phrase but with a twist. Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler is a variation of Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, a popular coming-of-age story by Judy Blume. Or what about Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett, the upside-down phrase based on the local meteorologist’s weather prediction. For the book, In the Midst of Winter: A Novel by Isabel Allende, the author takes the title from a quote by Albert Camus which in turn is the epigraph for her book.

Scroll through Wikipedia’s list of best-selling books and Goodreads’ Best Book Titles. See which titles jump out at you and why. Are they funny? Dramatic? Surprising?

To help you think outside the box, play around with a random title generator. Reedsy has one that you can find here.

Try these catchy phrases for your potential title:

  • The Art of…
  • Confessions of …
  • How to…
  • The Myth of …
  • Where the…
  • The End of …

Non-fiction books these days also have subtitles which tend to clarify the main title. A subtitle may identify your book’s central idea, who the book is for and what problem it solves. Take a look at these intriguing titles. 

Would you buy them based on the title alone? Why or why not? 

A catchy title is one of the most important determiners whether your book gets read or not, so take some time to find the right one.

Assignment: Come up with several working titles for your book.